A number of years ago an Enrichment Committee was formed to examine the current level of enrichment at our school and to look towards improving this to meet the needs of our gifted and talented student population.
The committee recognized the need to provide appropriate programming to meet the educational needs of high ability students, and at the same time, recognize the need to nurture the potentials, talents, and interests of all students in the Avon Elementary School. The enrichment program designed truly addressed the needs of all students and offers more enrichment opportunities than in past years and to a greater population of students.
A school such as Avon Elementary could expect to identify 10% or more of its student population as gifted and talented. A good source for pursuing the characteristics of giftedness in depth is Barbara Clark’s informative book; Growing Up Gifted (1988), which presents an exhaustive list of characteristics. Below is a list of typical characteristics stressed by educational authorities as being indicative of giftedness:
Shows superior reasoning powers and marked ability to handle ideas, can generalize readily from specific facts and can see subtle relationships; has outstanding problem-solving ability.
Shows persistent intellectual curiosity; asks searching questions; shows exceptional interest in the nature of man and the universe.
Has a wide range of interest, often an intellectual kind; develops one or more interests to considerable depth.
Is markedly superior in quality and quantity of written and/or spoken vocabulary; is interested in the subtleties of words and their uses.
Reads avidly and absorbs books well beyond his or her years.
Learns quickly and easily and retains what is learned; recalls important details, concepts and principles; comprehends readily.
Shows insight into arithmetical problems that require careful reasoning and grasps mathematical concepts readily.
Shows creative ability or imaginative expression in such things as music, art, dance, drama; shows sensitivity and finesse in rhythm, movement and bodily control.
Sustains concentration for lengthy periods and shows outstanding responsibility and independence in classroom work.
Sets realistically high standards for self; is self-critical in evaluating and correcting his or her own efforts.
Shows initiative and originality in intellectual work; shows flexibility in thinking and considers problems from a number of viewpoints.
Observes keenly and is responsive to new ideas.
Shows social poise and an ability to communicate with adults in a mature way.
Gets excitement and pleasure from intellectual challenge; shows an alert and subtle sense of humor.
It is important to be fully aware of the numerous ways in which giftedness can be recognized. With this in mind, our committee focused on developing an enrichment program that addressed the needs of the gifted and talented students that possessed varying characteristics. As we began to explore our current program we came to the realization that much of what we already do in our classrooms, and the way we have structured our program addressed many of the needs of our gifted and talented population. The following opportunities for enrichment are offered to students:
Differentiation- Differentiated Instruction is adjusting learning experiences to meet the needs of diverse learners in a mixed ability classroom. Teachers can modify content, process, and/or product according to student interest, readiness and/or learning profile. When teachers differentiate there are numerous benefits for students:
Tasks are appropriately challenging-neither frustrating nor boring
Students are more motivated when the task matches their readiness levels and interests.
Classrooms are more flexible and allow students to move around and be active in learning.
Students learn better when they are clear on ideas and key skills being explored rather than learning many discrete facts to cover the curriculum.
Each student can earn genuine success by starting at her/his own beginning point and progressing.
Students become more independent and aware of ways in which they learn most effectively.
Students learn to act as colleagues among peers.
For additional information about differentiation click here.
Project Adept: “Explorations”, Grades K-4 - This program is designed by Monroe 2–Orleans BOCES. Explorations Elementary Enrichment incorporates workshops and residencies. Residencies provide the opportunity for all students in the school to interact with a resident expert. A few years ago we had Mr. Ted Canning spend a week with us and present Sounds of the Caribbean. We also had various enrichment workshops throughout the year, which are designed for a group of thirty selected students. A sampling from the past year includes:
Animal Adaptations - In this workshop students learn about adaptations animals make to live in their special habitats. With emphasis on differences in animal body parts, students record their observations of live specimens and then stretch their critical thinking skills by associating those differences with the necessary adaptations animals make to live successfully in their particular habitat. The presenter was Teresa Stango-Listrani, a naturalist instructor.
Math Patterns - This enrichment workshop uses manipulatives to explore patterns in mathematics. Students designed their own original number patterns and learned about the Fibonacci patterns that occur naturally in nature. Through guided inquiry and discovery, students also learned about tessellations and developed their own tessellating patterns. Karen Scheske, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, at Roberts Wesleyan College worked with our students.
Day and Night - In this workshop, students drew upon their scientific interest and basic knowledge as they learned how the sun interacts with planet earth to make day and night. The focus then shifted to how day changes into night and back again as the earth rotates and how the sun helps to make different types of shadows on the earth. The Director of the Strasenburgh Planetarium, Mr. Stephen Fentress, presented the workshop.
Crime Scene Investigation - This workshop was a simulation and was designed to reflect the “real work” of people who investigate crime scenes. After an initial briefing, students were taken to the scene of the crime where they broke up into groups to begin processing the scene. Attention was given to documenting the crime scene, and understanding the complexities of the work that must happen to solve a crime. Past Chief Jim Carney and officer Tim Ferrara, of our own Avon Police Department, worked with the students.
Sounds of the Caribbean - We had the opportunity to the listen to the beautiful sounds of the steel drums during our enrichment residency. The program was entitled, Sounds of the Caribbean, and featured musician and presenter Ted Canning. Each teacher and their students participated in a classroom session. By the end of the classroom session, each student had the opportunity to learn how to play chords on the pans and join Ted Canning in playing a calypso song.
Starlab, Grades K-4 - A portable planetarium for grades K-12 is available for interactive programs supporting Science, Indian Lore, and English/Language Arts. The Starlab consists of a planetarium dome, which is inflated with a high-speed fan, and can hold up to thirty people. A halogen lamp projector shines through a mounted cylinder to cast images on the dome’s interior. The solar and stellar projections are extremely accurate. Our STEAM teacher Mr. Luke Weaver has received training through Genesee Valley BOCES to provide a yearly Starlab experience for our students.
Writers in Residence, Grade 1-2 - The school district secures the services of a highly qualified writer for ten full days. Over the past several years poet Rachel Guido DeVries has worked extensively with students in first and second grade. She meets with the same four classes each day and devotes the remainder of each day to meeting and working with teachers and/or students individually or in small groups. At the conclusion of the residency, students and the visiting writer present selections of their work at a reading in the school or community library. In addition, the writer will assist the school in producing an anthology of student work written during the residency.
Page Turners, Grade 4 - Page Turners is a quiz bowl style competition for students in grade 4. Teams of students prepare to answer questions by reading the books on the Official List of Titles, which is prepared by a committee of teachers and librarians through Genesee Valley BOCES. Teams compete in a round robin format with nearby schools. The purpose of the competition is to encourage and reward reading skills and to provide recognition to students for the accomplishments in reading. The program is coordinated through the library under the direction of Library Media Specialist, Ms. Holly Mullin.
Visiting Author, Grades K-4 - This GV BOCES service allows participating districts the opportunity to have children’s authors and illustrators spend time at their schools. Nationally known and acclaimed authors such as Chris Crutcher, Bruce Coville and Paul Zelinsky visit our schools for one full day to speak to students about the writing process and book publication. Authors also autograph their books and speak with teachers and students individually. Teachers report that children who interact with these authors are more enthusiastic about reading, writing and the process of writing.
Musician Ted Canning works with a student on playing the steel drums.
Avon Police Chief Mr. James Carney investigates the scene of the crime with Primary students.
The Continental Math League includes a large number of students.
Numerous writers and authors visit the school each year.
Mrs. Jennifer Leonard instructs students in the Star Lab.